I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Not all parts of raising backyard chickens is glamorous. Haha! For real though, today we’re going to talk about something that I really have no experience with, but I’ve done some research for you! We’re going to talk about worms. We will go over the signs of worms, how to prevent them and how to treat worms if they should show up in your flock.
How Do Chickens Get Worms?
Chickens who get worms likely get them from something they pick up and eat. This can be from worm-infected bugs, worm eggs or larvae on something they eat or droppings from another bird that has worms. A healthy chicken can tolerate a worm. However, if their immune systems are down or stressed, a parasite (worm) can populate quickly and cause illness and even death. According to Omlet.us, these are the worms that infect chickens: caecal, gapeworm, gizzard worm, roundworm, and tapeworms. Yuck!
Signs My Chickens Have Worms
A chicken that is infested with worms will actually eat quite a bit on the front end. This can be deceiving because healthy chickens can eat a lot! However, once infected, chickens are actually eating to feed the worms. Eventually, they will become lethargic, tail down and not interested in eating. Their combs and wattles will also become pale and miserable looking. They can also have watery poop, anemia and pale egg yolks, or quit laying eggs altogether. At this point, I’d be bringing my chicken to the vet. They can test for which worm you’re dealing with and treat it properly.
How to Prevent Worms In Chickens
As I stated earlier, chickens who are healthy with a strong immune system can handle a small worm load. Their systems take care of it. However, if their immune systems are down, the parasite infestation can rapidly increase, which causes your chicken to become sick. There are a few things we can do to help our feathered friends out!
The first is coop hygiene. Keeping a clean coop is very important! I’m not talking about dust. Chicken dust is a given! I’m talking about keeping it fresh and dry and doing your best to keep the flies (who can carry worm eggs!) at bay. We use the deep litter method in our coop.
We deep clean our coop 2-3 times a year. To keep up with the shavings in between cleanings, we use Coop Recuperate. This product has been a lifesaver (literally!) for our chickens. It keeps our coop dry and smelling fresh. It has organic essential oils and organic diatomaceous earth to keep the pesky little critters we don’t want in our coop away. We also clean our feeders and waterers on a regular basis. Additionally, moving your chickens' free-ranging spots around is also a good idea. We have our chickens in a fenced-in run and that’s probably why we’ve never had trouble with worms. I’ll even occasionally sprinkle Coop Recuperate over our run. This helps with the muddy spots in the spring where worm eggs thrive.
We also use Chicken E-lixir every day as a daily vitamin for our flock! Chicken E-lixir added to drinking water is a natural approach to keeping chickens healthy by promoting digestive health. For everyday use, it contains a unique blend of organic oregano essential oil, prebiotics, calcium, vitamins D & E and electrolytes. Keeping your chickens digestive and immune systems strong is vital in protecting your flock against worms.
Some people will also use garlic, pumpkin seeds and apple cider vinegar to prevent worms. These are all great natural ways to keep your chickens healthy.
How to Treat a Chicken With Worms
Again, I’ve not personally had a chicken with worms, so I’d highly recommend calling your vet if you suspect your chicken is being overrun with worms. I would rather be proactive and do a little extra as far as my flock’s health on a daily basis than be reactive and treat them with a dewormer that isn’t natural.
However, if I ever do see the need to use veterinary medicine, I’m not opposed to that either. We need everyone when it comes to having a backyard flock don’t we? I value my poultry nutritionists' and my poultry vets' opinions equally. That’s what’s so great about Strong Animals Chicken Essentials! Their team of poultry experts work together to provide the best information, studies, treatments and care for our flocks.
If you suspect your chicken has worms, I’d separate it from the flock as quickly as possible (to prevent spread) and reach out to your poultry vet.
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady